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The TV series Downton Abbey has been a worldwide success triggering an explosion of interest in people wanting to visit Downton Abbey itself, in real life Highclere Castle.
Highclere Castle is situated about 45 miles (72km) west of central London. The nearest large town of any consequence is called Newbury which is connected to London by train.
Highclere Castle is only open for between 60 and 70 days each year. Two weeks over Easter, for each of the May Bank holidays, and for two months (Sunday to Thursday) over the summer months, July to September. There are a few special events days but these are rare.
When you purchase your ticket you will need to select an am. or pm. admission time. The castle will open its doors at 10.30am, afternoon admission to the castle will begins at 1pm.
In past years demand hopelessly exceeds supply, you needed to be very organised and plan well in advance to get your hands on the much sought after admission tickets. However now that the last series of the TV show has been screened perhaps this will change. Tour companies only get a fraction of the tickets they ideally would like.
Highclere Castle has limited opening throughout the year, focussed mainly on April, May, July, August and September.
There are also some special events at the Castle throughout the year.
As tickets are scarce, even more so after the Downton Abbey film, it is recommended to book your tour early to avoid disappointment.
First thing of course is to get some tickets for Highclere.
The only place you can do this is at the official Highclere Castle website, linked below.
Highclere Castle is around 5 miles (8km) south of Newbury. There is a very limited local bus service (around 3 or 4 buses a day) between Newbury and the village of Highclere, then a very long walk. In practice most people will take a taxi from Newbury Station taxi rank.
Trains from London's Paddington Station run broadly at hourly frequencies throughout the day to and from Newbury. A taxi from the station forecourt should cost about £15-£20 in each direction to/from Highclere Castle.
The short answer is no, unless you have an entrance ticket the nearest public road is far from Highclere Castle itself.
However there are public footpaths through the Highclere Estate as well as some seasonal footpath openings which allow you to catch glimpses of Highclere. Details of these walks are on the main Highclere website (link above) or Google “Highclere Castle footpaths”.
Although Highclere Castle is the star of the show, being Downton Abbey itself, much of the TV series was shot elsewhere, mostly to the north of Highclere Castle close to Oxford and The Cotswolds.
There is a choice of tours with much better availability than the Highclere Castle tours, that visit these filming locations and explore the whole Upstairs, Downstairs era.
It should be emphasized that these tours do not visit Highclere Castle, Downton Abbey itself.
There is a Downton Abbey film location tour running with a similar kind of theme, combining visits to the main filming locations of the popular Downton Abbey TV series around Oxford with nearby attractions where you can experience the Upstairs, Downstairs era in which Downton Abbey is set. This tour runs only on Mondays and only when Highclere Castle is closed. Available dates run from April to October and you can book this tour using the banner below.
Tour of Downton Abbey film locations, Cotswolds and Blenheim Palace - International Friends
Adult from £164pp
• Private visit to Yew Tree Farm • Entry to Bampton library • Entry & tour of Blenheim Palace • Churchill's grave at Bladon • Small group - max 16 people
Oxford, Bampton & Highclere
Downton Abbey filming locations and visit to Highclere Castle
Downton Abbey filming locations and Highclere Castle (Small Group)
Highclere Castle Express tours (half day)
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Highclere Castle day tours from London are few and far between, normally opening dates are restricted between July and early September and national holidays at Easter and in May.
If you want to visit Highclere on a day tour from London it is not a matter of picking and choosing your tour, it's just grab the tour when available for your dates before it sells out!